Pac-12 Hangover: Week 2

The Hangover

Two down and … I don’t know, a handful of months to go.  Strangely if you think about it, the college football season is essentially 17% over.  Depressing?  If you look at it that way, but realistically, we are in the infantile stages of what college football fans would refer to as the 90+ days of Christmas.  Saturday’s truly are the gift that keeps on giving … and giving … and giving, from dawn to done (As in enough beer, enough chips, and enough television, I need some sleep!) it’s all football, all the time.  While the Pac-12 conference schedule has yet to hit full stride, it did start its engine last weekend with the initial shot fired across the bow of arguably the conference’s historical crown jewel.

The USC Trojans kicked-off the “Lane Kiffin Farewell Tour” with a home-opener reminiscent of a Walnut Grove/Sleepy Eye, 3 yards and a cloud of dust bore-fest.  Coach Kiffin is to Chip Kelly, as “The Situation” is to Will Hunting.  Lane likely has – as Billy Bob would say – “TEN, TEN, F***’N TEN” games to ward-off USC’s Athletic Director Pat Haden, Trojan alums, and the karma vultures who’ve been biding their time since his untimely departure from Knoxville more than 3 years ago … and I don’t think it will be enough.  While rusty in Week 1, few could’ve predicted the anemia that was the Trojan offense versus a run-of-the-mill defense that is Washington State.  Scoring 7 points, in a home-opener, against a team who won 1 conference game last year and allowed an average of 34 points per contest, equals an uncomfortably hot seat for one of the conference’s coldest fish. 

In other news, Oregon routed Virginia in a game that resembled most Oregon games, Oregon State bounced back somewhat haplessly from their embarrassing loss to Eastern Washington a week ago, and Cal did their best Beaver impression, nearly losing to an overmatched Portland State team picked to finish 11th in a 13-team Big Sky Conference.  Additionally, 5th ranked Stanford took care of business in their 2013 debut versus San Jose State, and Utah and Arizona pounded Weber State and UNLV as expected.  Washington took the week off, spending the majority of their free time icing their swollen heads as a result of the attention paid to their Week 1 win over Boise State, coupled with the self-indulgent parade they threw for themselves regarding the Husky Stadium reconstruction.  At the risk of sounding sour, it’s a stadium people.  It had a track before, now it doesn’t.  Win some games, become relevant nationally, then we can talk about “figuring it out.”  Between Oregon’s Football Operations “Death Star,” Washington’s renovated stadium, and UCLA’s (Who had a bye as well) new “Midnight LA” uniforms, I’m hyped-out, Bling’d-out, and Look-At-Me’d-out.  Thankfully we’re knee-deep in games now and have left at least a share of the meaningless fluff in the rearview mirror.

Colorado – one of the conference’s 2012 doormats – improved its record to 2-0 after a 38-24 victory over Central Arkansas, which if I had to guess looks a lot like Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western Arkansas … flat and brown.  Any win is a good win for the Buffaloes at this point, but unless the Arkansas team you beat squeals like a pig, claims John Daly as an alum, or is coached by a poor-man’s Evel Knievel who performs under the radar with younger women riding b***h (Lost?  See Bobby Petrino), I’d take it with a grain of salt.

Enough with the recap, let’s get to my quick hits of the week:

  • Cal isn’t very good.  I’d like to give credit to our local university for playing “up” on the road versus a superior opponent, but Cal nearly losing to Portland State in Berkeley is akin to Eastern Washington beating Oregon State in Corvallis with a back-up quarterback, wearing leather helmets, and playing in Crocs.
  • If your quarterback has a mustache, don’t bother coming out of the locker room.  UNLV looked about as good versus Arizona as their QB did with that hamster nailed to his upper lip.  If your name’s not Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds, or Rawley Fingers, either grow more facial hair or keep the upper lip clean … you missed your window 30 years ago.
  • Four meaningless carries never looked so good.  Oregon’s Thomas Tyner amassed 51 yards on 4 carries and scored 2 touchdowns in his much anticipated debut, but more importantly showed a quick first step and showed little hesitation in the process.  What did it mean?  In the big picture not much, but for a first look, Oregon fans saw what they’d hoped for from a player superseded by unrivaled hype.
  • Oregon State needs to rethink those white facemasks.  I’m actually fine with the new “uni’s” to this point, but that white vertical stripe down the middle of the facemask looks like a cross between something from the “Road Warrior,” and that contraption strapped to Hannibal Lecter’s grill in Silence Of The Lambs.
  • Marqise Lee runs backwards … a lot.
  • Brandon Cooks needs to back away from the 5-Hour Energy.  It’s been some time since I’ve seen a player talk as much, and as adamantly as the OSU wideout on a regular basis.
  • Roughing the passer penalties are out of control.  I’m not “the quarterbacks are too protected” guy, but it’s becoming laughable as to what you can and can’t do to a quarterback in or out of the pocket.  Between hitting them late, too high, too low, helmet-to-helmet, or any other punishable offense, it’s become a roll of the dice regarding putting pressure on the most pivotal position in the game.
  • The following movie must’ve gone straight-to-video, because I saw it for the first time just last weekend:  Dazed and Confused 2:  Mitch Kramer Plays Quarterback for Utah.  I’m convinced Travis Wilson is Mitch Kramer, the maladjusted 15-year-old pitcher who spent the better part of Dazed and Confused pinching the bridge of his nose as some sort of nervous twitch.  The gangly Utah signal-caller played well against Weber State last weekend, but certainly did his best work with a “sixer” at the Moon Tower later that night. (At least that’s what I’d like to think).
  • Speaking of doppelgangers, Washington State’s Connor Halliday is a spittin’ image of Napolean Dynamite.  Just sayin’.
  • Did Hawaii really get called for a roughing the passer penalty on a halfback-pass play last weekend against Oregon State? 
  • Sean Mannion is about 4 throws-a-game away from being a really good college quarterback, but it’s those 4 throws that are often the difference between his team winning and losing.

My Conference Power Rankings this week:

1.  Oregon

7.  Oregon State

2.  Stanford

8.  Washington State

3.  Washington

9.  USC

4.  UCLA

10.  Utah

5.  Arizona

11.  California

6.  Arizona State

12.  Colorado

There’s my week that was in the conference we call home.  It’s early, but teams are slowly rounding into form, and with the meat of the conference schedule right around the corner, the real excitement is just a week or so away.  I’ll be watching, and I’ll be back with what I see.